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SF Gate: Is It Wrong to Root for the Iraqis?

Posted By Blackfive • [November 25, 2003]

Warning: Some of the comments from the San Francisco area residents will deeply offend you.

This Sunday's San Francisco Gate's Opinion Section is just absolutely horrid. A weekly opinion section called "Two Cents" claims to tap into a pool of Bay Area residents for comments and anecdotes. Per the SF Gate, "Columns are a representative sampling of responses to questions we pose via e-mail."

A reader and veteran, Cicero, from the bay area sent me the link along with a fisking of the opinions (his responses are in italics). It is very disturbing if the SF Gate is correct about a "representative" sampling. Read on to see what I mean.

Here is the SF Gate's Two Cents Section for Sunday titled: Is it wrong to root for the Iraqis?

Welcome to Cicero's world...

Bonnie Epstein, Danville
"The Iraqis are a group of human beings whose country we invaded to improve their lives, to give them democracy, to save them from an evil leader. We better root for them or root out our government. "

Thank you.

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Rana Sircar, Sunnyvale
"I don't know of anyone rooting for Iraqis, but I and some of my friends certainly feel sorry about them and the situation they are in. We happen to believe that the war remains unjustified. We grieve for the dead and wounded of all nationalities, and for the destruction that we have wrought."

That was “for the destruction that WE have wrought”, in case you thought you had read it incorrectly. Now my personal favorite:

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Laurel Eby, San Jose
"I'm definitely torn, because I obviously don't want any more of our soldiers getting killed, but I also wouldn't mind the quagmire going on just long enough to ruin Bush's re-election chances."

Eby interprets the question as whether or not it is wrong to root for the individuals the United States coalition is currently at war with in Iraq, and is torn by the question. I’m not torn by that question. It is right to root for the Iraqis who are trying to advance their society to one governed by the rule of law, and it is wrong to root for the Iraqis who are prepared to murder anyone and suicide in order to achieve their objectives. Pick a side – zeks or communists, jews or fascists, American soldiers or jihadis. There is no moral ambiguity in this situation.

Secondly, the “but”. Proceeding from the “but” in the first quote, “…I also wouldn’t mind the quagmire going on…”. Really? Do you think that will make America safer? Will that bring peace? American lives are precious, and we will not accept our soldiers dying in a “quagmire” for any but the most important of reasons. Why is it morally acceptable for the quagmire to go on? “…just long enough to ruin Bush’s re-election chances.”

There it is. One might rephrase Eby’s response to something along the lines of “I hate Bush so much that I wouldn’t mind having a few soldiers a day die in Iraq for a while to get him out of office”. Right? That is what she is saying. BTW, would anyone else care to venture a guess as to who Eby will be voting for? Bueler? Bueler? Dean?

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David Cutting, Truckee
"If you mean the barbarians that are murdering coalition soldiers, aid workers, and Iraqi police officers and government officials, then the question is too despicable to even deserve a reasoned answer. If you mean the majority of Iraq's population, then by all means, root for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraq. What could be more American?"

What indeed.

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Rebecca Woo, San Francisco
"It's not rooting for the Iraqis to want a peaceful end to this fiasco. I opposed this war from the beginning and even many of its supporters can now see it was a mistake. Bush lied about the reasons for the war and the severity of the threat posed by Iraq -- or, should I say, the lack thereof."

Woo clearly interpreted the question as referring to the jihadis and correctly states that there can be legitimate opposition and criticism of an administration during wartime. Then it is right back to the talking points. “Opposed war from the beginning …Bush lied”. Way to stay on message Woo.

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Yvonne Sullivan, San Mateo
"It depends which Iraqis you are talking about: Sunni, Christian, Shiite, exile, suburban, urban, male, female, radical Islamic, moderate? This ignorant lumping together of a diverse group of peoples as one stereotyped entity is what is causing the current miserable situation in Iraq. I'm rooting for any one of the above who isn't for rampant destruction in their own backyard."

Sullivan either makes a good case that the situation is complex or filters everything through the diversity lens. Sullivan lists types of Iraqis, then says “This ignorant lumping together of a diverse group of peoples as one stereotyped entity is what is causing the current miserable situation in Iraq.”. I’m not sure if Sullivan is advocating a nuanced, person-to-person Special Forces interaction approach in Iraq or just a good dose of affirmative action. Anyway, she is “rooting for any one of the above who isn’t for rampant destruction in their own backyard”.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Peter Beagle, Oakland
"War is not a football game -- a fact that seems lost upon a lot of people in this country. There's no point system and no championship trophy; there is nothing at the goal line but death. The only people I cheer for -- on either side -- are the ones who somehow manage not to die, and who come home safe to their families. What else is there?"

Actually Peter there is a whole lot “else”, but mostly that “else” is the essence of humanity: putting your life, your fortune, your sacred honor at risk for an ideal. The ideal we are fighting for is the rule of law. The other side is fighting for the “jackboot in the face, forever”. It actually matters who wins this war. Our side is morally superior to the other side. It was a net plus for the human race by pretty much any standard that you might consider that the Nazis were removed from power. The same is true for the Soviet communists. It is also true for these jihadis. We have to kill them in Iraq and Afghanistan and anywhere else they are before they inflict massive casualties on us. I sometimes really have a hard time understanding how people don’t get this.

I’ve been letting this soak in for a day because it is so fundamentally wrong that I can’t quite believe what I’m reading. I’d really like to know which Iraqis the “Two Cents” staff had in mind and who they might be rooting for. Anyway, I think this says a lot about the Bay Area, though this group is not necessarily representative. One out of seven hate Bush so much they might be willing to spend American lives in a quagmire to beat him in 2004. Two out of seven are not that bad, but they are so partisan that they can’t answer a simple question without immediately getting back onto talking points. One has no allegiances beyond his own family, and is not willing to fight for anything. One wears a diversity lens so thick I’m not quite sure where she stands, and two out of seven are actually not members of the tin hat brigade.



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